Campus projects advance
New academic buildings near completion while others begin construction
It has been less than three weeks since the spring semester started, and Liberty University students have already witnessed several changes to the ever-evolving landscape of the school’s campus.
One of the most noticeable projects underway is the School of Music building. Charles Spence, senior vice president for construction planning, said the building will contain two facilities, one being the classrooms and practice rooms for the School of Music itself and the second being a concert hall. The School of Music portion will be completed in time for classes this August, while the concert hall will not be ready until January 2016.
“Every day, all day long (the concert hall) acts as a classroom with 200-300 seats while the rest of the building is portioned off,” Spence said. “It will have everything that you can imagine for a fine concert hall. It will be booked for a lot of evening productions after classroom hours. We do so many concerts off campus now because we don’t have a venue we can do it in.”
The science building, which consists of three wings, is also set to be completely ready for the fall. The A-wing will consist of science classrooms and offices for the faculty, while the B-wing will be a large lecture hall and a grand entry. The C-wing, which primarily consists of classrooms, is already open. Spence said the new building has created several opportunities for the science department.
“They offer programs this year that they have never been able to offer before,” Spence said. “Liberty needed more classrooms, and we now have a very nice lecture venue. I think we’ll have many more cadavers than we have had and much more training in that area.”
One project that has been completed is the relocation of Dunkin’ Donuts and the addition of Baskin Robbins to the Residential Commons I. Dunkin’ Donuts had previously been located in the Vines Center.
“The Vines Center is not really a good location to have a retailer outlet,” Louis Cambeletta, Liberty’s director of food service operations, said. “It’s great during games and things like that, but there is a lot of lockdown time in the Vines Center when you have concerts and ballgames and stuff. There is much better access for the public where it is now. We are getting good feedback.”
Spence spoke of the new location of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robins, echoing Cambeletta’s opinion of the switch from Vines Center.
“The Vines Center was just an intermediate stop,” Spence said. “We always planned for it to go into dorm one. And the idea was to have this food venue for late-night ice cream and early morning coffee and doughnuts in the area to make it most convenient for (the residents’) lifestyle. Unfortunately, we (could not) move it from dorm 14 straight to Commons I. We had to move it to the Vines Center for an intermediate stop. We had to get special approval for Dunkin’ to approve that.”
Currently, the back hallway of DeMoss has been shut down for construction on the new student center, which is expected to be ready by January 2016. Cambeletta said the center will contain several new food venues, including a Mediterranean-style restaurant, an Asian concept, a Woodfire pizza, a Sheetz-like store and Argo Tea.
“About the middle of last semester, we brought (Argo Tea) on campus in the Tilley, and we did some samplings, and the students really raved about it,” Cambeletta said.
“And there are three or four concepts going in there that you can’t get anywhere in Lynchburg. We are going to beef up the concessions a little bit. We are going to have a lot (in DeMoss).”
Liberty students living in the Residential Commons I will have noticed construction taking place nearby on Residential Commons II, which should provide an extra 1,000 beds. According to Spence, the building will be completed in time for the fall semester.
“It’s heavily under construction,” Spence said. “One wing will be occupied this August, the other half would be the spring semester one year from now. The conditions have been tremendously better than they were the year before. (I am) very thankful of some decent weather. The last building took 18 months. This building will take 12.”
For more updates on construction, visit liberty.edu/aboutlibery and click on Current Construction.
Prayer Chapel Renovations
Even as the campus is busy with concerts, athletics and students rushing through the day, there is a calm surrounding the newly renovated Prayer Chapel that is best described as a state of peace and reflection.
For years, the Prayer Chapel has been left in its original condition. But with a new year comes many changes to the campus, including renovations to one of the oldest buildings on campus.
According to Charles Spence, senior vice president for construction planning, the idea for renovating the Prayer Chapel had been around for about five years. A decision was made to extend the building but maintain its original form to preserve the history and memories of the university’s humble beginnings.
“The opportunity never really did afford itself,” Spence said. “I think when the conversations were brought up about tearing this one down and building a new one up, there were a lot of emotions that made it to the administration saying ‘No, no this is our Prayer Chapel. (If) you build another one, its great, but this is our Prayer Chapel.’
And I think those conversations finally made it to the administration, and it wasn’t long before we started construction. And I think the idea came back around. We talked with the President and showed him a plan that we think would work really well for the place, and he approved. It’s been talked about for years, and we just wanted to make sure we got it right the first time.”
Spence said the whole construction team rallied together to incorporate the best features they could into the chapel, including a pastor’s office and a bridal dressing room. Another big change is that the front of the building was extended to allow more room for bathrooms and a more comfortable feeling as students enter the building. The carpets have been replaced with hardwood floors.
Timothy Griffin, associate dean of students in the campus Pastors Office, sees the renovations to the Prayer Chapel as a way to improve students’ spiritual walk.
“I think one of those improvements is found in the fact that the Campus Pastors Office now has a private office in the chapel,” Griffin said. “This will give us a chance throughout the week to engage students and staff who desire to pray with someone in a more private setting. For me, the Prayer Chapel has an exterior charm that is so welcoming, and once you’re inside, the atmosphere is so conducive to prayer. There is a quiet calm that everyone seems to respect.”
Along with the improved aesthetics and atmosphere, the Prayer Chapel renovations now allow for more weddings to take place. The chapel is a convenient wedding location in Lynchburg.
Griffin said the renovations to the Prayer Chapel took place at the perfect time.
“I am happy to see the renovations done at this time, because though there is much focus on improving academic facilities,” Griffin said. “It sends a message to the university community that we still value the spiritual. And in our spiritual lives, there are things as impactful, but nothing more impactful than prayer.
Janney is the asst. news editor.
Voss is a news reporter.